Yesterday a friend and I braved the heat and ventured to Roosevelt Island to visit Four Freedoms State Park, architect Louis Isadore Kahn’s tribute to our only four-term president and the man who gave the world so much of what many people sadly take for granted today. When I got home I finished Jean Edward Smith’s FDR, an outstanding biography I have been reading over the summer in addition to finishing my book manuscript and boning up on my U.S. Grant. (Last week I picked up a brand new hardcover copy of the same author’s Grant for $5 that I will get to in a few weeks.) This morning I have been going through copies of “Gas Attack,” the newspaper published by the 27th “New York” Division during the First World War. The men had published a previous newspaper called the “Rio Grande Rattler” when they were stationed on the Texas/Mexico border during the Punitive Expedition in 1916. The reason I say all this is because in pursuing “Gas Attack” I came across this extraordinary photography that includes Margaret L. Suckley.
The image we see here is from the May 4, 1918 edition, published at Camp Wadsworth and the last installment of the paper before the division shipped out to France. Suckley (the first vowel in her name rhymes with book) was one of the two dozen or so canteen women who provided refreshments to the men of the 27th Division. Most of these women were married and had spouses within the unit. Suckley though was not one of these. In 1918 when this photograph was taken she was 26 and unmarried. A few years earlier she had been a student at Bryn Mawr but for whatever reason her mother forced her to drop out before getting a degree. Franklin Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy at this time but he and Suckley did not yet know each other; they would not meet until 1922. In the 23 years after that, until FDR’s death in April 1945, they would be confidants and close friends. She was one of the few people unafraid to tell Franklin when he was wrong. Margaret was one of the women present in Warm Springs when Roosevelt died.
(image/Gas Attack of the New York Division)